Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Déjà Vu Movie Review

A good time travel movie will keep you puzzling over how the actual chronology of story's time line fits together. Then everything should fit together by the end and blow your mind as you realize how everything worked from the beginning. It's kind of a fun mental exercise of sorts. Déjà Vu (2006) is an exciting time-traveling crime thriller that features some great characters and some fantastic time bending scenes.
A ferry filled with US Navy crewmen and their families was blown up in New Orleans on Mardi Gras. ATF agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) is brought in to assist in the massive investigation, and becomes connected with an experimental FBI surveillance unit headed with Agent Paul Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer). This unit uses spacefolding technology to directly look back a little over four days into the past. While tracking down the bomber (Jim Caviezel), Carlin gets an idea in his head: could they use the device to actually travel back in time and not only prevent the bombing, but also the murder of local woman Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton) whose stolen truck was used in the bombing?
Déjà Vu starts out in post-Katrina New Orleans and immediately captivates the spirit of New Orleans and the anticipation of Mardi Gras. Principle photography in New Orleans was delayed because of Hurricane Katrina due to the collapse of the levees. Some scenes of the post-Katrina devastation was worked into the plot and the impact on the people of New Orleans was worked into the script. Déjà Vu was the first movie after Katrina to be filmed in New Orleans, and it made sure to recognize the damage. Yet it shows the city still thriving and people still happy and excited about their annual celebration. It's not terribly pertinent to the story, but it made the movie seem more real.
I can't think of very many people who look cooler walking in slow motion through a crime scene while wearing sunglasses than Denzel Washington. He's a fantastic actor; I've liked him in everything I've seen him in. He's great in this role. Carlin is a very calm and level-headed man who is very observant. You can't help but think of Sherlock Holmes as he focuses on seemingly innocuous things and starts making deductions. As he scans the crime scenes he notices very small details that hint at bigger things, and it's actually fun watching this character at work. On top of that, for being a hardened police officer, he's fairly jovial and approachable to his cohorts. His character instantly becomes likable and relatable. Denzel's delivery is great and he's got some great lines. He's trying to get a straight answer out of the FBI science team and says, “I'll speak slowly so those of you with PhD's can understand.”
The bomber they are trying to catch is played by Jim Caviezel. Caviezel is very good at playing crazy. There are some fairly overt similarities between the bomber and Timothy McVeigh, a domestic terrorist who destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City with a bomb in 1995. In fact, the opening scene where we see the bombing of the ferry brings to mind the Oklahoma City Bombing. The bomber in Déjà Vu considered himself a patriot, a hero of sorts. But in dialogue you can tell he's off his rocker. Good villains aren't bad for the sake of being bad. This guy has depth and reason behind his actions, skewed and corrupted as those actions may be.
The time travel bit was very interesting. There are a few schools of thought about how attempting to alter the past to change the future. Some of them are addressed in Déjà Vu. Some things are fixed moments in time that cannot seem to be changed no matter what. There are small things that can be changed that lead to bigger changes. Both of these occur in Déjà Vu, but we're not really shown how or why some things can be changed while others cannot. To be fair, even the FBI team that uses this time bending surveillance equipment haven't experimented with it enough to know what kind of effects changing the past might have. As the movie progresses into its third act, it becomes a bit convoluted and tricky to follow. The story is still remains pretty solid and exciting.
Déjà Vu is a very tense, action packed movie and you've got to pay attention so to grasp the whole thing. It's a really fun time travel story, has some great characters, and some impressive visual effects. Déjà Vu has one of the most creative chase scenes I've ever seen which involves Carlin chasing the Bomber's location with a four-day time difference between them. Déjà Vu is worth seeing twice; it's the kind of story that becomes more interesting once you know the end from the beginning. I highly recommend seeing this movie, I'd even buy a copy on Blu-Ray.

If you could time travel, where would you go and why? Comment below and tell me why!

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